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Prep softball: Power-hitting speedster Rollin finds new home at West

First Published      Last Updated Mar 10 2017 07:22 pm


Prep softball » Power-hitting speedster joins last season’s 5A runner-up.

Power at the top of the lineup is a bit of a rarity in softball, where the first hitter often is someone with speed who slaps at the ball while getting a running head start out of the batter's box.

Someone who can slap a ball over the fence, well, that's what Taylorsville had with Jazmyn Rollin last year.

Rollin, who committed to the University of Missouri, batted .557 and slugged a dozen homers to help lead the Warriors within one game of playing in the championship round when Taylorsville lost to West 11-8.

But don't look for Rollin in the Taylorsville dugout this season. She switched sides. The junior is wearing the jersey of West as the 2017 softball season begins.




And Rollin, quick as she is, may not be used in the same leadoff capacity given that the Panthers' lineup, which routinely put up double-digit runs a year ago, is so potent.

"That's our general on the field and offensively," West coach Keith Lopati said. "She's developed a lot of power over the years. If it's not that, she's using her speed.

"She's the first actual triple threat I've seen in a long time," Lopati added about Rollin's speed, power and ability to hit for average.

Rollin's route to West High was not a straight line.

She decided to transfer to Hunter at the end of last school year, and that included her decision not to play softball. She attended Hunter for one term before the second transfer to West.

"I always felt like they were talented and I could bring something to their program," Rollin said about West, noting she played with some of the Panthers on club teams. "I felt they were an amazing group of girls who I always wanted to play with."

The reason Rollin is eligible to play right away for West, according to UHSAA officials, is because her father was hired as an assistant coach for the Panthers.

Lopati said that Fred Rollin already coached some of the West players, and he wanted to establish continuity between Rollin's coaching in the summer and the high school season.

"Her dad is the coach for the Firecrackers, which is a travel-ball team in Utah. They play a high level of softball," Lopati said. "Having Fred on our staff is huge because last year he had six of our girls on his team already."

Rollin said she's gotten blowback, especially on social media, about her moves.

"I'm here for academics and my dad's coaching here," Rollin said. "I've responded, just letting them know that, 'Hey, I'm doing what's best for me.'"

Rollin's bat significantly improves West's chances of securing the school's first softball championship, but this may be a one-and-done deal. That's because Rollin said she is trying to graduate in December of her senior season to head to Missouri early.

"I'm going over there to try to be a four-year starter, so I can train earlier," she said. "We'll see how it goes."

 

AT A GLANCE

Class 5A

Defending champion » Riverton

Outlook » The last three state champions have come from Region 4 — Riverton in 2016 and Lehi in 2014 and 2015. But the ace pitchers for both schools — Riverton’s Jordan Lockhart as well as Lehi’s Sydney White and Stefani Zimmerman — all graduated last spring. Not that pitching mattered all that much. Riverton simply out-hit West for the state championship. The Silverwolves return senior Madison Tuft, who had a .581 batting average a year ago, as well as junior K.C. Whiting (.455 average). West may be the team to beat as slugging sisters Breah and Huntyr Ava, both committed to play at BYU, lead a hard-hitting lineup. The Panthers will need their pitching to improve. Herriman, Copper Hills and Bingham also figure to be state contenders.

Class 4A

Defending champion » Spanish Fork

Outlook » As long as Spanish Fork standout pitcher Cambrie Hazel is around, the Dons remain the team to beat. She is a senior and joined by junior Jordyn Bate, sophomore Brylee Rudd and junior Gabby Beckstrom — a trio of hitters who combined for 19 homers last year. The toughest tests may come within Region 8, which is nothing new for the Dons. Spanish Fork’s 2015 title win came against Springville, while last year’s crown was clinched against Maple Mountain. Uintah, a newcomer to Region 8, surprised with a run to the final four last year, and the Utes have back talented seniors Summer Stensgard and Jaden Lance for another try. Maple Mountain, the state runner-up last year, returns solid hitting with senior Sydnie Wilson (.573 avg) and junior Mickie Mills (7 HRs). East, Murray and Corner Canyon are contenders to break Region 8’s stranglehold on the state title.

Class 3A

Defending champion » Bear River

Outlook » Bear River didn’t manage much against Juab standout pitcher Taylie Williams in the playoffs last year, but consecutive 2-1 wins were just enough to give the Bears the state crown. And Bear River returns important pieces, like Kapri Toone and Mercedes Call, to a hitting lineup that usually produced in bunches. The only time that didn’t seem to happen last year was when Williams, now a senior, and the Wasps held down the Bears. The usual contenders out of Region 10 were there in the final round last year. But Grantsville, Tooele and Stansbury all were held in check by the Bears and Wasps in crunch time. Those three contenders will look to mount another challenge this season.

Class 2A

Defending champion » Manti

Outlook » It’s fair to say that Manti just about mauled opposing pitchers in the Templars’ run to the state title last year. Manti ripped off a combined 65 runs in five contests and finished with a 16-6 win over Enterprise. The Templars’ top two sluggers, Amanda Naylor and Mikaela Cox, both graduated, so Manti will look to regulars like Meg Larson, Jayda Shaw and Kiana Pogroszewski to pick up the slack. Look for Enterprise and Beaver to contend, but the biggest challenger might be the team that won the crown in 2015 — South Summit. Senior Hannah Peterson is back from a campaign that saw her hit .570 and pitch the Wildcats to 22 victories, and she should get help from fellow seniors Nicole Fitzgerald and Elise Bush in the team’s push to reclaim the championship.


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